CHRISTOPHER DORE: The tragedy of Ninette Simons will haunt Anthony Albanese forever

The Nightly
7 Min Read
Albanese will do whatever is necessary to avoid taking any responsibility for anything, says Christopher Dore.
Albanese will do whatever is necessary to avoid taking any responsibility for anything, says Christopher Dore. Credit: The Nightly

The bloodied, bruised and battered face of Ninette Simons will haunt Anthony Albanese until the day he is driven out of The Lodge.

This is an unspeakably raw, gut-wrenching, picture.

An official police victim mugshot of a grandmother, an innocent old lady, who has paid a gruesome, grotesque, price for the incorrigible incompetence and dim-witted arrogance of Albanese and his ministers.

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Albanese, brimming with snappy petulance, is happy to declare “I am the Prime Minister!” when it suits but is unable, or unwilling, to accept any serious responsibility bestowed upon that office.

This is a Prime Minister in perpetual denial. A Prime Minister in name only, big on symbolism and preposterous, ponderous words, and diabolically short on leadership and accountability.

Ninette Simons’ fate at the alleged hands of a violent detainee is the direct result of not one, or even two, but a series of bungles directly attributable to Albanese’s ministers Andrew Giles and Clare O’Neil, and the bureaucrats they instruct.

The Prime Minister doesn’t want to talk about how she came to be brutalised in her own home allegedly by a criminal non-citizen, released into the wild by his Government. Or more precisely how his Government is to blame for it. Curiously, many media outlets, happy to terrorise Albanese’s predecessor for more superficial mistakes, don’t either.

Just as they mostly don’t want to talk about how Albanese couldn’t rise above the taunts of a victim of sexual and domestic abuse or apologise for making her cry. How the Prime Minister shamelessly belittled the activist campaigning for women’s safety, demanding politicians do more to protect women from abusive men. Only for her to be met by a man, our top politician, who humiliated her and then dismissed her as “emotional”.

While he can’t keep Mrs Simons safe, it must be some comfort for the battered 73-year-old that Albanese’s “thoughts” are with her.

And his prayers? Well, they are reserved for his own fate. His “heart goes out to Ninette”, he said on Sunrise this morning. “No one should be subject to that sort of violence.” To say those words are hollow, in the context of this sickening, entirely preventable, attack is an understatement. “It is an outrage that this occurred,” the Prime Minister added. He got that right.

But who is responsible? Not me, absolutely not me, says Albanese. Not my ministers either. Nope.

“If it was up to me, I assure you, that there wouldn’t have been bail granted in that case,” he said under questioning from Nat Barr. “I am just as upset about that decision as you are. I think that lacks common sense.”

But, let me say it again, “that wasn’t a decision of the Government, Nat”.

I don’t hold the hose, Nat.

One of the trio accused of bashing a pensioner in WA is an immigration detainee released after a landmark High Court ruling. Pictured is victim Ninette Simons.
The Government has failed Ninette Simons. Credit: WA Police/TheWest

In November, when the Albanese Government released these detainees, Giles and O’Neil promised to do everything to keep Australians like Mrs Simons safe. No blame shifting when they introduced a “preventative detention regime” in December with “four layers of protection … to keep Australians safe”. No ifs or buts, or, hey this is up to someone else, not us Nat! “These four layers of protection,” including ankle bracelets, curfews and preventative detention, “will work together to ensure community safety and keep Australians safe”.

This. Is. What. We. Are. Doing. To. Guarantee. Your. Safety.

Us, the Government.

And the special board, PM, the one you specifically set up to monitor these detainees, the board that reports directly to Immigration Minister Giles, the one that took off this bloke’s ankle bracelet?

“I think that’s the wrong decision by that board, but they make the decisions.” Your board, Prime Minister.

I don’t hold the hose, Nat.

Nat Barr got Albanese to this point this morning, directly shifting the blame to the Commonwealth prosecutor and the handpicked community safety advisory board, it’s worth noting, having spent the rest of the week, saying things like this: “Well it’s not appropriate for me to comment on individual cases … “

When Albanese was asked, should all the criminal detainees let out by his Government be forced to wear ankle bracelets, he said this: “Look, that’s a matter of, those operational matters, are a matter for those people in the authorities who are dealing with it.”

By today, having shifted the blame, including of course to the High Court, Albanese wanted to reassure everyone, again. “We’re bringing in, we’ve brought in a range of laws.” “We want to take as strong an action as possible here.” “We recognise that community safety is the absolute priority.” “My Government is committed to doing what we can to address these issues.”

I’m so sorry Ninette, my heart goes out to you, it really does, this is an outrage what happened to you, but remember …

I don’t hold the hose, dear.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese speaks during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Tuesday, April 9, 2024. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. Credit: LUKAS COCH/AAPIMAGE

Albanese will do whatever is necessary to avoid taking any responsibility for anything. He didn’t even accept that he stuffed the Voice. He won’t ever say sorry. He will blame whoever he can, and then attempt to deaden every controversy in the hope that if he stops talking about it in any meaningful way, the media will get bored, and move on. Done. Forgotten. How about the Rabbitohs?

Remember when the Prime Minister was obsessed with Israel? Wouldn’t shut up about it. Albanese was so uptight in fact that he persistently lectured Israel on how to conduct its conflict with the insurgent enemy Hamas, and harangued Israel’s leaders, as they fought a war against heinous terrorists.

Albanese even accused Israel of deliberately killing an Australian aid worker in the war zone and was so outraged about how our friend and security partner handled the accident that he sent an envoy over to make a pest of himself and demand an official investigation.

And then Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong went one step further, saying the only way forward was to reward the terrorists with a peace deal, insisting that Israeli soldiers lay down their arms, leaving Hamas in power in Gaza.

What happened to that?

Well, Iran launched a missile and drone attack on Israel.

Albanese has not said a word about Israel since. Not once in more than two weeks.

Weird, huh?

Just like our Prime Minister has not uttered a word on the arrest of an alleged teenage terror cell, plotting away on WhatsApp, to specifically target Australian Jews and launch a jihad on the streets of Sydney.

Not a word. Stay silent. Maybe it will go away.

Albanese has not delivered a substantial speech or even made insubstantial reflections on national security aside from one appearance to stick it up to the riotous Assyrians after their bishop was attacked.

He hasn’t re-assured Australians that our security and police agencies have got this emergence of Islamist terror under control, even if authorities had no idea about the existence of the teen cell until one of their mates stabbed the Christian priest at the pulpit in the name of Islam and they got a hold of his phone and contact list.

And while Albanese has spent months conflating rampant antisemitism and barely existent Islamophobia, he has chosen not to address the actual manifestation of hate speech directed at Jews by Sydney preachers.

When it comes to the topic that touches every Australian, wherever you live, Albanese has also fallen mostly silent. Energy prices, the cost of living. Albo? Mate? What’s doing?

Two years after taking office and promising the world … well there were those tax cuts, remember, you know the ones that helped me win that by-election? And Jimmy Chalmers will be with you in a couple of weeks, just hang on for a bit longer. All the answers will be clear then, made right here in Australia.

If Australians are feeling just a little bit uneasy right now, it’s understandable.

It’s chaotic.

Physical safety, economic security, prosperity, confidence, national unity, certainty: none of these are guaranteed right now.

Albanese’s insecurities are adding to a general sense of national uncertainty. A tension our Prime Minister needs to ease. If only he could confront challenges in a meaningful way. In any way at all.

It is true he pulled together the premiers for a couple of hours this week to superficially address violence against women. They were done and dusted before lunch. He promised lots of money but did the bare minimum on the policy front. And the least he could do after one press conference, where he also took a question about the coach of the South Sydney Rabbitohs. One radio interview.

We done? Everyone happy? Move on.

As a political strategy, maybe it works, but it’s unlikely.

Who knows.

As an expression of national leadership.

Anthony Albanese is missing in action, lost.

Up to you, but hey PM, we’re over here, waiting.

Ready to hand you the hose.

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